Grammy-winning artist livens up theater

by Lenise Willis

If it’s one thing that High Point Theatre remembers, it’s that music and lyrics carry the same artistic beauty as spoken lines and stage sets. This is why the theater’s line-up always includes a multitude of musical artists, which this week includes folk legend Nanci Griffith.

“Our catch line is that HPT is your ‘Passport to Entertainment,’” said High Point Theatre Director David Briggs.

“Nanci Griffith’s performance style fits into the type of music we bring to the table, from Americana, to jazz, swing, Celtic and an eclectic variety of magic, comedy and theater. We offer a ‘world’ of entertainment to our audiences.”

The Grammy-winning singer/songwriter and Americana Music Association Lifetime Achievement Award winner will sing for one night only this Saturday, serenading Triad audiences with her clear, soulful voice and evocative lyrics.

“Nanci is an amazing artist that crosses over, from Americana, to acoustical, to pop and Texas-swing style of music,” Briggs said. “She has done very well with other North Carolina audiences, and is a good fit for the quality of singer/songwriter that we want to feature.”

Griffith’s self-described “folkabilly” style is better known in her song “From a Distance,” written and composed by Julie Gold, although Bette Midler’s version achieved greater commercial success. Other popular songs of Griffith’s include “Love at the Five and Dime” and “Outbound Plane,” which she performed with Tom Russell.

“We like to do the original artist here at HPT, and not tribute bands or artists,” Briggs commented. We think it is better for the Triad audiences to be exposed to the ‘real thing,’ not some copy.

“Nanci Griffith appeals to such a wide range of audiences,” Briggs added. “Her ability to tell a story and bring a message through song makes her one of the most highly regarded artist on the American music scene. Her pedigree is unique and unquestionable.”

Having already produced 20 albums in her musical career, Griffith is now out with Intersection, an album about difficulties, anger and things that slip away and explode.

“It’s emotional for me and it’s personal, and it makes my heart pound, thinking I’m going to be totally exposed here,” Griffith said. “So many people are at an intersection in their life, with the way the economy is, with foreclosures and downsizing…. For me, Intersection is my musical crossroads.”

A native of Seguin, Texas and the daughter of musical parents, Griffith grew up in the business and spent her childhood involved with theater, literature and music.

By the time she was eight years old, she had learned to play the guitar, and by the time she reached 14 she began playing small clubs and entering singer-songwriter competitions around Austin.

Griffith continued to perform during her college years at the University of Texas and while teaching kindergarten in the mid ’70s, before deciding to make music her full-time ambition in 1977.

After several months of limited touring in 2011, Griffith’s bandmates the Kennedys (Pete and Maura) enticed Griffith back into the studio by packing up their professional Manhattan recording studio and relocating it to Griffith’s home in Nashville.

There, Griffith and her backing team, including Pete and Maura Kennedy and Pat McInerney, co-produced her most recent album, Intersections, over the course of the summer. The new album was released in April 2012.

The Kennedys will open for Griffith Saturday night. The welltraveled duo has recorded nine of its own albums of original songs and exquisitely performed cover tunes.

Coming soon to High Point Theatre is North Carolina Shakespeare Festival’s production of A Christmas Carol, which will run select days Dec. 6-23.


Nanci Griffith performs at the High Point Theatre, 220 E. Commerce Ave., for onenight only this Saturday at 7:30 p.m.. Tickets are $30-$35 orchestra, $25 balcony. For tickets or more information, visit or call the Box Office at 336.887.3001.